In less than eleven months from today, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, will yield place to a new administration by efflussion of time having spent the mandatory two terms of eight years as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
Under President Buhari, Ondo State has had the benefit of fulfilling its Constitutional mandate of presenting three of its eminent citizens as Minsters of the Federal Republic. They are Professor Daramola, Senator Alasoadura and now Prince Ademola Adegoroye (PDA). Curiously, the three of them have been handed Minister of States, which invariable translates to Junior Minister.
Why Ondo State has not been able to knock a substantive Ministerial appointment under PMB cannot be interpreted to mean lack of capacity or pedigree maybe just tough luck. Whatever the situation, our own, Ademola Adegoroye is the latest having been handed the portfolio as Minister of State for Transportation.
Those who are familiar with both the socio-political and bureaucratic system in Nigeria would confess that our friend has come to the cabinet at a very difficult and challenging period. It has been said that for any appointee at that level to make any impact or understand his Ministry despite having a Ministerial Mandate, it takes an average of one year. This challenge is posed by the civil service system and its bottlenecks. Also, the challenge of expectation and need for deliverables (dividends of democracy) by the constituents is herculean and challenging but imperative and necessary.
Furthermore, the political season has just opened, the Minister would have to strike a balance between the discharge of his responsibilities as a Minister and his role as a grassroot politician. None is expected to suffer. All these are the challenges our friend would have to face.
I trust he has enough within him to maneuver within this dangerous milliue. I equally know he has all it takes to confront his duties in Abuja with singularity of purpose as a typical Ondo State person. Let’s not deceive ourselves however, there would be challenges, it’s for him to push aside such challenges and deliver in many areas his predecessors could not.
The purpose of this write up is to do an intellectual discourse on what type of balance the Minister would have to strike in upping his game in Abuja and making the necessary impact. This piece would not be for lazy readers and neither is it a PR module but a dialectical approach to political appointments and expectations in Nigeria.
Pragmatic Realism: A Conceptual Approach
There occurs a marriage of ideas in this discourse which corpulates to provide a basis for meaningful understanding of my intervention here. It relates to the world of concepts namely ” pragmatism” and ” realism”. Both are established concepts meant for a recipe of actions within the human realm.
Pragmatism is the idea that beliefs are identified with the actions of a believer and the truth of the beliefs with success of those actions in securing a believers goals. In soft parlance it means ” ideas must be looked at in terms of practical efforts and consequences”.
From the time of Plato, pragmatism has been an excellent and rich topic of discussion. He said ” the ultimate rational goal is not to accumulate knowledge and avoid falsehood but rather to live an excellent human life”. What this means is that you do not dwell on things that do not increase or excite the mind and the body. You must praticalise and exhibit a combination of brain, effort and wit. You adopt a functional positive approach to issues not as they appear but as it comes.
Proponents of pragmatism like Baima and Tylers are of the contention that ” the truth and meaning of all concepts is defined by their practical consequences. In other words, pragmatism is vague and uninspiring if it cannot produce a practical purpose or interpreted in a practical way. This obtuse idea is from the philosophical angle and it must be seen as such.
Politically, pragmatism presupposes that, political problems should be met with pratical solutions rather than ideological ones. In essence, whether as a Minister or as a Councillor or leader in a political ward, political matters or challenges should be met with pratical articulation, delineation and execution. Because one deals with rational beings at the top of the ladder, it must be to achieve a result.
In other to properly appreciate this concept, we can say that the convergence of the abstract idea and the human angle means that pragmatism could be safely defined as ” an approach to things that focuses on facts or logical responses”. In other words, the true essence of pragmatism is addressing problems logically and practically. More succinctly one could say pragmatism, means thinking or dealing with problems in a pratical way rather than by using theory or abstract principles.
Realism on it’s own looks at issues from the point of a mental state. From a philosophical point of view, Realism believes that ” the object of our senses are real in their own right in that they exist independent of their being known or relative to mind”.
In pratical terms realism is a “confluence of common world of thought and common world of sense”. It means, a realist must see things from a point of understanding and knowledge. This is where the realist and the pragmatist tend to align in thought. The two divides claim that ” an object known or experienced is different from how the objects is before it attained such relationships”. They went further to agree that ” since we can never know an object except as it is known or experienced by us, the objects being known or experienced forms an integral part of the object known”.
Practically, realism presupposes that knowledge and experience tend to modify or affect or constitute the object to some extent. The Aristotelian belief is that, ” the real exists in the sensible world and can be known through sense of perception or observation”. One could say that the main trust of Aristotle’s position is that ” there must be a separate intervening being that is the source of all other beings”.
Ethically, Aristotle in his articulation of realism stated that ” it is only by becoming excellent that one could achieve ” eudaimonia”, that is, a sort of happiness or blessedness that constitutes the best kind of human life”. This principle views realism as a functional antidote to the everyday cause of action within the human space. Arguably, it is a believable argument which could be valid and sustained to plead that, a realistic approach to issues may be achievable only when the contents of the challenge is known and situated within the knowledge bracket. Knowledge bracket here is accentuated facts rather than emotions.
Pragmatic Realism and the Common Construct
On a note of caution, it is advisedly proved that both concepts are related and conjoined on a relative diverse. In other words they share a common parlance. This commonity is envisioned on the fact that ” pragmatism” is coined to adjectively qualify realism in a sublime way. Both feast on the capacity of the human mind to accentuate the demand for human existence and living in a structured rational environmental construct.
Here is the deal, a realist could be seen as a “person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly”, while a pragmatist, is seen as a person who has a vision or the belief he holds and ” acts on the basis of expected consequences”. Pragmatism is “about what you do and why you do it”.
Zapata in his comments sees pragmatism as a “dispassionate common sense” that looks at ” the pratical side of life”. No pretensions. A pragmatist is a risk taker. In his own observation, M.J. Vann, says pragmatism is established on four variables namely, ” possibility, feasibility, probability and immediate effectiveness”. It revolves around the notion that you cannot be too dogmatic fearful or morose in dealing with issues and facts. One must be a working machine on his feet.
Realists on it’s own looks at stages, scenarios, reward, empowerment and rational schetches to create actions while pragmatists change with time. According to Vann, ” they do what the overall day to day needs to be done. They change with the tide”.
The Ademola’s Cross and the Crown
It is respectable to note that the Minister is coming when there seems to be some momentum in the transport Ministry. The Ministry whether we like it or not has been one of the “poster boys” of the Buhari administration. This is in terms of infrastructural investment, social commitment and institutional positioning. The job is not made easier with the challenges faced with taking it to the next level. One of such is the railway and the maritime industry. The security challenges and its international connections. Granted that the Minister may have a mandate area under a substantive Minister, the line of action may be imperiled.
To survive, the Minister must act in such manner that a realistic approach of allowing the existing order of things to remain or change should be a course of deliberate action. This would be done in conjuction with identifying the past present and future. Past actions and activities must be properly situated within the existing focus at hand. In this area, the Civil Service would be the most logical destination. They would provide the template.
Further challenges of relationship of past and present characteristics of the Ministry would have to be unearthed to safeguard the possibility of falling of tract. The personalities and work module of past occupants will also be of immense advantage in guiding the reaction to facts and figures within the Ministry. This is to prevent human administrative set backs. These are the realistic creterials on ground.
The pragmatic approach would ultimately be established on the didactiveness of the current Minister, his understanding of his mandate and how he wanted to be seen now or in the future. Occupying an office is one thing, holding the ace is another. This is where the personality and charm of the man on the seat becomes apparent. The mental capacity and reactive nature backed by past experiences and residual knowledge would nonetheless accentuate the capacity of our Minister to be the man that he can possibly be.
No matter what activities he is bound to oversee in a loud Ministey like the Transportation Ministfy, the Hon. Minister would have to evolve his own template of action by pursuing a focused and deliberate agenda to succeed. He would have to react effectively and lead from the front in identifiable areas to earn the respect and understanding of the people around him while not allowing them to control or deliberately confuse or cajole him.
Every template must be assessed, every idea must be properly discussed segmented and demarcated. Every viable possibility must be pursued and all success factors must be tested, reviewed and processed for action. Every action no matter how intangible must be properly scrutinised to identify fault lines or breaking points ( weakest point) and strengthened for landing site ( end result). All the end results must be processed to situate its paternity with the set goals and objectives.
What the above simply means is that, the Minister working through all the various organs of his Ministry and Directors must provide leadership, understand the action, follow up on results, evaluate success and failures and reference the actions through review process line. He must endeavour to work through his subordinates and collate actions without fail. Ideas and suggestions must flow through the lines of contact but he must also be ready to provide a better way of doing things from the top.
To achieve, the ” better way” is to look at success and failure ratio of the past and delineate it for success possibilities. This ,means he must have to provide new ideas and initiatives in handling the projects and plans of the Ministry to achieve its goals and objectives. While relying on feeds and feedbacks from formal and informal sources, the doors of personal initiative is not closed.
As the Chief Exexutive of his mandate area, the Minister is advised to use his understanding of the process as a template to his own action plan. What do I mean, he would have to rely on the internal mechanism as a basis for action while sourcing for solutions elswhere. The idea of experts, use of technology, effective maintenance of the process and procedure and controlling the action centres is a necessary possibility which must be done in a sublime way.
To achieve success, the pragmatist is not bogged down by loads of talk but on simple templates and transformational ideas. He confronts problems and challenges with profound pratical solutions. He adopts a “Smart mode” of working. That is, doing a task in a most simplest, fastest, easiest and less costly way to achieve success. A pragmatist identifies the human resource and deals with them in a common way. A pragmatist use the best hands and deploys action in areas of need without wasting time.
The pragmatist must also recognize the reality of working in a human environment especially the Nigerian society where banana peels are always set for Chief executives. This realisation and understanding gives the Minister the opportunity to plan both forward and backward templates for his actions. Since, human beings are going to be the dominant resource, he would have to provide an effective leadership not one that is feared but one that is respected. He must allow for openness of ideas and its cross ferterlisation. He must roll each idea against the available mandate and provide a better, safer and softer landing area for success.
The greatest challenge of the Nigerian environment is its sucesptability to deep immorality, corruptible influence and illicit behaviours like laziness and ignorance. This is further compounded by the political expectations and poverty in the system. A man destined to success would have to be careful so he does not fall prey to the Nigerian craze. While trying to please, the constituents, one must maintain a level of care and internal reasonability. The Nigerian society are quick to condemn. One must always balance his future against the common expectations.
To succeed, I do not have any illusion that Prince Ademola Adegoroye will succeed on this task. He has all it takes. His consmopolitant outlook, his experiences, his training and his been a blue blood provide a natural basis. I know him to be a didactic person, quick to action and someone who can think while standing on his feet. He would have to combine his best attributes to manage a system where time is of essence and where history beckons.
While watching his back, he must commence a private study of the mandate area from independent sources and creative and pragmatically attacking the problems for enduring solutions. He cannot do everything but must concentrate on areas that will be most impactful and succesful. For a task were one is running against time the pragmatist is invited to act practically and damn certain consequences. The charge for success is a game of thrones ” kill or be killed”. In pragmatic realism, there is “no time to check time” only success counts.
One area the Minister must attend to is the constituents. No matter how little, the need to be visible, present and align with his people is of greater importance. The Akure community and Ondo State people in general who have been looking forward to a return to a better day from Abuja might have found one in Prince Ademola Adegoroye, Minister for Transportation of the Federal Republic.
He must feel the void and lacuna that have trailed the period of the recent past Ministers since Agagu left the Federal Caninet. If for anything the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu laid a foundation on how to deal with constituents when occupying the post of a Minister. Prince Ademola Adegoroye must visit his tomb for inspiration in this regard.
This time has come and it will pass, but whatever is done will be remembered as time goes on. Realistically, pragmatic realism in Yoruba means ” ewe iwoyi la fi n’wo egbo iwoyi”. This is surely a tough call to be a Minister at this time of our history. But a greater impact will be made if the Minister sticks to his natural instincts without forgetting the need to take consciousness from the environment.
May Ademola succeed.